10 Obsolete Jobs We Love

obsolete jobsRachel Farrell, special to CareerBuilder

If you made a joke to a young child that she was the milkman's daughter, her response would probably be something along the lines of, "What's a milkman?"

A milkman, like so many other occupations, is what some might call a job of yesteryear. With the advancement of technology -- computers, phones, automated systems -- the need for people to perform certain jobs is dying. It seems there is always someone or something that can do the job better, faster, cheaper.

We looked at jobs that are obsolete or on their way out. Here are 10 of our favorites:

1. Elevator operator

Once upon a time, elevators were operated manually and someone had to "drive" them. The operator chose the floors to stop on and had to get the doors to land as close to floor level as possible. Eventually, push-button controls were invented, yet elevators were able to take passengers only on individual trips, so they needed operators to take the most efficient routes. Today, elevators are automatic, lessening the need for operators, but a few work in tourist buildings and some apartment buildings.


2. File clerk

File clerks -- and clerical jobs in general -- are being phased out. More files are being stored online and on computers, diminishing the need for people to do the work manually. The occupation is expected to shrink by nearly a quarter in the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


3. Iceman

Before electric refrigerators, people stored their food in iceboxes. To keep the iceboxes stocked, icemen delivered 25- to 100-pound ice blocks to homes several times a week. Nowadays, we have freezers, most of which come with automatic ice dispensers. Today's icemen deliver only to schools, restaurants and catering companies.


4. Inspectors, testers, samplers, sorters and weighers

These are quality-control inspectors. They make sure your car runs smoothly, your chip bag is sealed and your pants won't split the first time you wear them. But, as with many manufacturing jobs, these positions are declining slowly because of machines that automatically inspect goods and assembly workers who monitor the safety of goods as they are made on the line. The occupation is expected to decline by 4 percent by 2018, according to the BLS.


5. News vendors, street vendors and door-to-door salesmen

Although street vendors are more common in big cities, the times of people trying to sell you things on the sidewalk are passing. These days, every sales pitch comes with an ad or marketing campaign. And now that you can market and sell everything online, there is less of a need to sell goods in person. These positions are expected to decline rapidly through 2018.


6. Machine feeders and offbearers

True to their job titles, machine feeders and offbearers insert materials into and take materials out of machines to speed up the production line. But as automation continues to take over in the manufacturing industry, people will be needed less and less and these occupations will continue to be phased out. About 22 percent of these jobs are expected to be lost, according to the BLS.

7. Milkman

Milkmen used to make dairy deliveries to homes every week. Almost 30 percent of consumers had milk delivered, according to a 1963 survey by the Agriculture Department. But as time went on, it became more convenient for consumers to buy milk at groceries. By 1975, only 7 percent of people got milk deliveries and in 2005, it was less than 0.5 percent. Interestingly enough, today there's an increasing number of vendors that are delivering more than just milk -- they deliver entire grocery orders.


8. Paper goods machine setters, operators and tenders

These people set up, operate or tend paper goods machines. These machines perform a variety of functions, including converting, banding, wrapping, boxing, stitching and sealing paper into products -- pretty much anything humans can do to paper. But the world doesn't run on paper anymore (at least not as much), and when this job does need to be done, a machine can do it. By 2018, the BLS predicts this occupation will lose 21.5 percent of its jobs.


9. Switchboard operators

Switchboard operators used a "cord board" to connect callers by plugging incoming lines and metal pegs into the corresponding hole on the board to connect with the correct caller. Long-distance callers were routed through operators, but with only a limited number of lines. If all circuits were busy, operators took callers' number and called them back when a line was available. Now, with the advancement of technology, cell phones and long-distance plans, the need for these operators has diminished.


10. Typist

Before computers and word processors became common, typists -- most of them women -- wrote up office documents using typewriters. If they performed well enough, they usually got promoted to secretary (another dying position). Nowadays, most professionals type their own documents, and those who don't employ an executive assistant.


Rachel Farrell researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder.com. Follow @CBForJobSeekers on Twitter.

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the kid

Bugler- the military now runs a tape of a bugle sound, because no one knows how to play taps etc...Or how bout Cobbler, the shoe repair man? Or buggy ship maker? Do the Amish make their own? The milkman? They use ti deliver to the your door in glass bottles..

September 24 2013 at 9:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
G-Iris

With the internet, some jobs like the Milkmen are bound to return except instead of just milk, they'd deliver u'r groceries. People will one day be able to order their groceries 7 have them delivered to their home by someone in a delivery truck. Sounds like a good job for me to do. : )

November 07 2010 at 6:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Emma

I have a few more cool jobs to add to the list. How about the good old days of the lighthouse keeper! Another job is a 'weather observer.' Today, a lot of lighthouses are no longer in operation, but are historically preserved. Many others have museums that enjoy visitors, and some are automated. Similar to the lighthouse, many weather stations have become automated. These are called ASOS (Automated Surface Observing Stations), and AWOS (Automated Weather Observing Stations). Many airports and rural areas still employ weather observers, but there has been a decline in these types of positions. I think that these are two of the coolest jobs that anyone can ever dream of.

November 07 2010 at 4:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
marry him you fool

Are you seriously saying they are still doing it the old way with a computer room, tapes, punch cards and the works? Wow, where is this dinosaur?

November 07 2010 at 4:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
knightowl057

THE REASON YOU HAVE TROUBLE FINDING WORK CAN'T BE THAT YOU'RE OVER 40. REMEMBER WE HAVE LAWS AGAINST AGE DISCRIMINATION. IF YOU BELIEVE THAT I HAVE A BRIDGE FOR SALE. THERE ARE SO MANY WAYS COMPANIES GET AROUND HIRING DISCRIMINATION LAWS IT'S DISGUSTING. WORSE THAN THAT IS THAT ALL THE REST OF THE LABOR LAWS ARE THERE TO PROTECT THE EMPLOYER NOT THE EMPLOYEE.
AFTER ALMOST 30 YEARS AS AN INDUSTRIAL MECHANIC AND MILLRIGHT MY BOSS DECIDED IT WAS MORE IMPORTANT TO GO GET A CUP OF COFFEE THAN FOOT THE LADDER I WAS ON WITHOUT TELLING ME HE WAS LEAVING. END RESULT A 20 FOOT FALL, 2 MONTHS IN THE HOSPITAL AND REHAB HOSPITAL AND 3 1/2 YEARS BEFORE I WAS FIT FOR WORK.
MY WONDERFUL EMPLOYER HAD NO COMP INSURANCE AND SINCE THE COMP LAWS DON'T ALLOW A WORER TO SUE THEIR BOSS ALL HE WAS PENALIZED WAS A SLIGHTLY HIGHER INSURANCE PREMIUM AND INSIGNIFICANT FINE FROM NYS WHILE I ENDED UP LOOSING OVER 3 YEARS PAY. SURE THERE WAS A LAW SUIT BUT IN THE END THE LAWYERS WHO WERE GOING TO HELP ME ALSO SCREWED ME WITH A SETTELMENT WHICH BARELY COVERED THE MEDICAL EXPENCES. NOW AT 53 I FIND WORK HERE AND THERE FOR 90 DAYS. ON DAY 90 IT'S ALWAYS THE SAME SONG " WE'RE SORRY BUT WE DON'T FEEL THAT THIS IS GOING TO WORK OUT" WHICH LEAVS THE DOOR OPEN FOR HIRING THE YOUNGER WORKER.
WHAT DOES ALL THIS HAVE TO DO WITH OUTSOURCING WORK? SIMPLE MONEY IS POWER. LAWS AND REGULATIONS ARE WRITTEN BY PEOPLE WHO HAVE MONEY AND POWER AND PLAN ON KEEPING IT THAT WAY. FACE IT THERE ISN'T A DAMN THING THOSE OF US ON THE DIRTY END OF THE STICK ARE EVER GOING TO BE ABLE TO DO TO CHANGE IT. YOU CAN REVOLT ALL YOU WANT BUT IN THE END IT WILL CHANGE NOTHING.
"MEET THE NEW BOSS, SAME AS THE OLD BOSS"



November 07 2010 at 3:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bob

the boss wanted you to throw away some of the old files. he wasn't an idiot.

November 07 2010 at 3:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
EBONIE ENT.

Ok..so who has the best idea and what is the plan to get our jobs back? Who is going to be the team leader and where do we meet? Let's stop talking about it, let's get busy and DO something about it! I too held the jobs of the 70's providing bank balances by ledger posting, working in the "cold computer room" as an operator loading the huge tapes for programs to run on a daily basis, upgrading to "punch-down of internal phone line connections" now after 34 years of service, growth and progress, I "suddenly don't know my job"..and although MY JOB did not change, the idea of progress did..OUTSOURCING!

November 07 2010 at 2:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Denizio

Paul, quit bitching and get a life. I used to be a press operator and that got phased out. Then I went into auto sales for over 30 years and retired.
You have to stay up with the times and train yourself for change. Change is constant.

November 07 2010 at 2:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tony

I sure hope none of you complainers shop @ wall mart. If you do then a lotta the prob (if not most ) is caused by YOU.

November 07 2010 at 2:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lee

Hey,

Tommy, Warren, Steve, Paul, and Willy. different names, but same person. If you think that the readers don't know that it's just one angry America hater posting under different names you're wrong. I do have a suggestion for you if you hate this country so much. Get on a plane, and fly yourself out of here to somewhere nicer, like Mexico or India. You're sure to land one of the millions of outsourced jobs available. But, you won't be happy for long; it'll take about a week and you'll be bitching about how their country is run as well. People of your ilk are never happy, no matter where they are or what the situation is - you're part of the problem, not the solution. I'd tell you to have a nice day, but you won't.

November 07 2010 at 2:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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